One of the reasons why I don't like playing a straight zone as a base and especially at the end of games is because it allows the offense to dictate the numbers advantage. In the stunning upset earlier in the week when Division II Le Moyne stunned Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, Le Moyne was able to get off a 3-pointer with time left on the clock to over-take the Orange.

Check out the video first from the ESPN highlight:

If you look closely, you'll see exactly what happened. Le Moyne had 4 players above the free-throw line extended. Syracuse is in their 2-3 extended zone, but the 3 low defenders are below the free-throw line extended,

So, essentially, Le Moyne was playing 4-on-2 above the free-throw line extended. Le Moyne's best shooter, O2, Chris Johnson who had already nailed 5 x 3-pointers, shuffled to the open spot on the arc and launched the game winning shot,

Now, I think it's easy to say, play zone regular, and switch to M2M at the end of close games. But the problem with that philosophy is, players who get used to played straight zone, have trouble re-adjusting to playing M2M. That is the reason why I personally, prefer to use a M2M defense as your base. In those crucial situations when you really need everyone matched up, you can be sure your players will be in the right spots. If the other team hits a 3-pointer with a defender right in their face, then so be it. But at least you can be sure that your players defended the play as best they could.

For more buzzer beating strategies, take a look at Homer Drew's DVD on Late Game Situations. Coach Drew is the head coach of the Valparaiso University.


  1. beantownhoops  

    November 9, 2009 at 5:05 PM

    Great stuff as always. In states where they have a shot clock for high schools, I would keep this one for a late game sit. Especially against teams who zone to hide man deficiencies.

  2. Jeff House  

    November 9, 2009 at 8:21 PM

    The new exhibition format for Division I schools has made for a great deal of exciting games early! This game was a lot of fun. Screening and overload action is very effective vs. zone. You could use FastDraw for your diagrams.... really easy and professional looking.